Sunday, September 10, 2006

On England's (Britain's) pleasant pastures seen...

Watching (again!) 50 years of BBC news it was brought home to me how much the little island of Britain has been through during my life time. Given that I have spent the majority of my life outside Britain I naturally focus more on world events, the Middle East and Asia being my two main areas of focus, with Britain almost falling into the category of 'other places of interest'. The following list of news stories is obviously not complete, but for various reasons have been imbedded in my mind and seeing the film footage on the BBC's DVD made me realise that for such a small island...Britain's mainland has, in recent years, experienced a lot.

1971 - Ibrox Park stadium

1973 - the three day week

The IRA mainland bombings – Hyde Park, Houses of Parliament, London Hilton, Brighton, Guildford, Birmingham and of course Canary Wharf. The IRA reign of terror on the mainland, was not limited to the few mentioned above, there were many,many other attacks on both civilian and military targets. The IRA threat on the British mainland is to my generation what Al-Qaeda and its ilk will be to future generations.

1976-1981 -the Yorkshire Ripper

1980 - Alexander Kielland platform disaster

1981 - the Brixton riots

1981 - the Toxteth riots

1982 - The Falkland Islands conflict, I think the Falklands war was the beginning of my interest in news and current events. We were living in Jordan, down by the Dead Sea and at the time there was no television reception there, only the BBC world service, and every evening my parents and I would sit at the dining room table listening to the news on the radio. At the same time, with one line, Brian Hanrahan, gave me an interest in the reporters who told the stories behind the headlines..."I counted them all out, and I counted them all back". For years and years I could name all the BBC correspondents and where they all were located and what news they were covering...

1984 - The miners strike

1987 - Fire at King’s Cross tube station

1987 - The Hurricane (unnamed!). A friend of mine got married the day after the hurricane, my mother was medically air-lifted from Sri Lanka and was on one of the first flights into Heathrow after the Hurricane had passed...from what I can gather the scenes of devastation were incredible.

1987 - Herald of Free Enterprise

1988 - Lockerbie

1988 - Piper Alpha oil rig fire

1989 - the Hillsborough disaster

1990 - Poll Tax riots

1996 - BSE, EU bans all imports of British beef.

1996 - massacre at Dunblane

2001 - Foot and Mouth crisis

2005 - the London Bombings

And individual names that have been burned into the British subconscious

Myra Hindley
Yvonne Fletcher
Jamie Bulger
Michael Fagin
Stephen Lawrence
Damilola Taylor

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

William Shakespeare, "King Richard II", Act 2 scene 1

N.B. I have taken blogger's perogative and have obviously omitted all the events in Northern Ireland and from the list I see I have included no Welsh news and even though I use the word 'mainland' I have included two oil rig disasters, the oil rig disasters are included because coming from the North-East coast of Scotland, oil platforms are part and parcel of my image of Scotland.


Blogger Scorpy said...

I see you have also left out ANY reference to the World Cup :)
Some of the other stories have bought back memories both good and bad. I met a lot of boys that came to Australia for R&R after the Falkland's campaign...we drank for a very long time.

8:06 am  

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